J-Dub’s Review of “Before and After” by Judy Christie & Lisa Wingate

I finished in one day! That’s how good is this book. My new word “un-put-downable”. These are real-life stories of children used as commodities of a corrupt system. Georgia Tann was a monster in my opinion. Yet despite what happened, we see the human connection. These stories told from the adoptees POV are riveting. I’m glad the authors took that route by giving them a voice after years of being somehow less than. The psychology of it all is fascinating. I’m convinced now more than ever that people do the best they can with what they’ve been given. Flawed humans aren’t we all. Still triumph of the human spirit endures. Tears 😭 both happy and sad. My rating 5 out of 5 stars ✨!!

As always more to come.

J-Dubs Review of “Hope: A Tragedy A Novel” by Shalom Auslander

In place of tunes we have book club. Yay to multi-media. Time to get started.

I almost didn’t review this book calling it un-PC but in actuality the story is satire. Or my layperson’s definition of satire. Kind of cool that the kidlet recommended even though he couldn’t finish the book. He said he’ll pick it up again once his own personal demons pass. He’s very astute and realized what would happen before it happened. The theme in a way mirrored his life last year. Or perhaps just too close for comfort.

I’ll try not to spoil the story for anyone though this book has been out some time. Solomon Kugel is the proverbial sad sack or schmuck. Sort of “Death of a Salesman” Willy Lowman like. Sol trudges through a job he hates to afford the American dream he really doesn’t want while caring for his aging mother and trying to make everyone happy.

He carries around a small pocket sized notebook and pen so he can write down his possible last words as things strike his fancy. He borders on obsessed really. He knows the famous last words of several celebrity types. Some of his entries are so wrong they’re right. Funny too.

He has a warped relationship with his mother. Well don’t we all? She’s right off her rocker. Well yes I am. 😂 There’s a long suffering spouse and plucky only child. He has a sister who’s missing in action leaving their mother’s care mainly to him.

I think some fantasy was woven in with Professor Jove his psychiatrist who I believe never existed and the realtor Eve. She seems to have made a deal with the devil selling houses with a special surprise in the attic. The tale starts and finishes with fire as a theme of arson is carried on throughout. Though dark and twisted, there were parts which were literally laugh out loud.

I sometimes joke Hope is a fickle bitch. Sol Kugel would likely agree. I didn’t get a lot of quotes for my commonplace book. Instead I got one rather long passage that expresses to me that the past can be difficult with which to come to terms. I’m not the only one who might wish for a do-over occasionally.

If only there was a Miracle Away for the past. A Forever Gone for brutalities, atrocities, indignities great and small. A lemon-scented life, that was what he wanted; for Jonah, for Bree, for Mother, for Anne. A pine scented, clean, polished, revitalized life. Leaves no residue. Resists finger prints. Sixty-four ounces of new, price on Amazon – who cares? Click to add to cart. Rush delivery.

May not be for everyone but I’d read it again. I’d probably pick up some new gems. Sol is a tragic character who you laugh with … to keep from crying maybe. My rating 4.25 of 5 stars.

#SoCS for 11/30/19 ~ “shade” part two

Songs go in a perpetual loop in my brain.  And weird things spark different tunes.  I just finished reading Dangerous When Wet: A Memoir of Booze, Sex, and My Mother by Jaime Brickhouse.  I wrote a little review on Goodreads.  Very short and sweet:

Unconditional love of a mother for her child. We should all be so lucky to have a “Mama Jean” in our lives.

Though in hindsight, maybe not.  The expectations of perfection may have driven him to drink but those same expectations may have also saved him.  If I have learned anything in my short life, one cannot save someone who does not want help.  Recovery is a tough nut to crack.

When is the shade coming up Jilly?

Well, as I read this memoir I thought of the fictional Less Than Zero by Bret Ellis Easton.  Debauchery.  Not saying Jamie (IRL) is Julian (fictional) though there could be some similarities.  What got me to shade was the soundtrack for the movie based on the book.  Bangles covered the song “Hazy Shade of Winter” most excellently. Haunting and fitting for the theme.  The original was a Simon and Garfunkel gem.  I now share both, beginning with the homage.  Hope you enjoy!

rules and ping back


Habits and Happy Thanksgiving

Now here is how to start off Thanksgiving.  See my feature image.  M’m veeeerry good.  I am drinking a Houston blend in an Austin PD “No Thanks I’m Driving” cup.  This cup is over 35 years old and it is still my favorite.  I’ve cut back significantly on my coffee consumption but the mug works for hot tea or hot chocolate too.

My brother and brother in law were policemen for the city of Austin Texas.  That’s how I got the cup.  The one that I had to have!  My dad had been gifted one years before and I used it exclusively when I visited.  Then one day, I was surprised with my own.  I’m still not sure how my brother got me the discontinued cup.  But he did.  How sweet it is!!

Since they worked holidays, we’d have Thanksgiving dinner at one of their houses.  We’d eat at a non-traditional hour.  That way they could stop by during their shift to eat with us then skedaddle back to protect and serve.  Later in their careers when they got the day off, we moved the party to San Antonio.

The Friday after was not a shopping day for us, instead we’d head for the place aka deer lease.  A tradition that carried over after I got married, just a different place – B’s grandpa’s “El Soldado” ranch.  El soldado means the solider for that is what Grandpa John was first and foremost.  Or maybe good Catholic, father, then solider.  Still makes me sick to my stomach that his legacy was sold.  Even the mom from The Glass Castle a Memoir by Jeanette Walls kept her inherited land despite extreme poverty in her own home.  Some say crazy … crazy like a fox.  LAND what a precious commodity.

No use bellyaching about sold inheritance.  Especially on this fine day.  Where all is right with my small microcosm of the world. I am extremely “pinch me I must be dreaming” blessed.  I am thankful! Every. Single. Day!

As always, more to come.

J-Dub’s Review of “Change of Heart” by Jodi Picoult

I think Jodi Picoult always does a fantastic job researching her work and making fiction feel more like non-fiction. Her stories are ripped from the headlines. They touch on sensitive subjects which usually cause heated debate. “Change of Heart” is no different. I won’t spoil it by giving away too much. This book has been out some time reducing the ability for spoilers anyway.

Death row inmates, double murder, the jury system, child in need of transplant, medical ethics, priest questioning his faith, child abuse, single female lawyer with disapproving mother … anyone of those stories could stand alone. My one and only critique is sometimes too much is packed into a single book. The subplots can be distracting.

I read this book faster than appears. I had another book which had an earlier due date so I started, stopped and started again. A quick pace, kept my interest the entire time. Packs an emotional punch which makes reading the book worthwhile even if you disagree with some of the points made.

I rated 4 of 5 stars.  Goodreads is 3.93.

J-Dub’s Review of “Baby Teeth” by Zoje Stage

The novel “Baby Teeth” by Zoje Stage was the September book club selection of the month for Shaefer’s Sippers.  The method to select is automated via library search engine.  We’ve now read three books in a row about mothers and their child/children.  Someone asked for a change of pace.  D is going to add different criteria for October.  Personally I could go for some lighthearted comedy with tons of cursing dropped in.

I was all prepared for the been there done that sameness.  However this book took a most sinister path.  I am not sure what it says about me that I enjoyed this book.  Mostly because the book let me escape.  No matter how awful things get around here we are not as hard up as these people.  Am I awful?  Or am I using self preservation?  Not that I feel good about someone else’s misfortune.  I DON’T!

Moving along to the actual review … no spoilers from me.

The book is written in alternating chapters from the POV of Suzette (mommy) and Hanna (daughter).  Starts in the middle and doesn’t really end.  The pace was quick enough in that I finished in less than a week.

Entertainment Weekly got it right in saying this book is “We Need To Talk About Kevin Meets Gone Girl Meets the Omen”. I could just picture this sprite little girl who is vastly different on the inside than her appearances let on. More confirmation for me than ever that you never really know anyone. Even more confirmation that we can’t change some facets of ourselves.  The whole nature versus nurture debate again.

My take is that we are all predisposed to be a certain way and the catalyst can be either innate or external.  We are all a mystery. Chilling when the seed is bad.

The book had no true ending. That is my only critique. Not sure what I wanted to happen but I was left feeling hopeless … almost as if redemption was not even a remote possibility for squirrel y girl.

Goodreads rating is 3.64.  I rated as 4 stars but wish I could give 1/2 stars as I might of rated 3.5 with this one.  Recommended read though for anyone who enjoys the psychological thriller.

J-Dub’s Review of “The Perfect Mother”

A few days ago I finished the Schaefer Public Library Book Club selection for August – “The Perfect Mother” by Aimee Molloy.  I will give my usual ramble.  Not really a review because on my misstep regarding “We Need to Talk About Kevin”.  I spoiled that book for a very irate person and I have gone to extremes to never do that again.

I really wanted to like this book … “The Perfect Mother”.  Though my kids are adults, I remember what it felt like to be a new mom.  I assumed I would stroll down memory lane which being thrilled by the scenes.  Alas, that was not the case.  This book tried to do way too much.  In the story, we had every cliche out there.

The chapters were titled by dates and most started with the mommy newsletter.  Trite and irritating.  I won’t name character names because basically they are all interchangeable.

Mysterious main character mommy.  She is “friends” with perfect mommy with perfect doting husband but baby not reaching milestones.  Another mommy with stereotypical do nothing husband.  The mommy with a secret which includes being the cause of a politician’s career ender.  We have single parent mommy.  Stay-at- home dad who tries to fit in.  Mommy who’s child was stillborn.  Typical mothers-in-law and moms to moms.  We have both a teacher and a doctor who took advantage of young girls.  Tragically sad.  We have someone talking to themselves in much like the book/movie “Gone Girl”.  Nothing original and nothing surprising in what is supposed to be a psychological thriller.

The typical negative feedback from those who know grammar.  The stuff I miss since I must read stream of consciousness too.  Repeating dialog that is not wrong but unnecessary and other assorted faux pas.  Goodreads gives the book 3.54 stars.  I gave it 3 stars which was generous.  Two stars was probably more fitting.

As always, more to come.

J-Dub’s Review of “Good Luck With That” by Kristan Higgins

I quoted many a line from this book before I even finished reading.  Once I was done, I gave a resounding FIVE stars!!!!!  Then I went through and read some of the Goodreads reviews.  My oh my there are two sides to every story.  Or maybe more like three or four sides or as many sides as there are people.  Ugh!  Will I be a sheep and change my vote?

High level without spoilers this is a story of friendship with a romantic underlying theme.  Childhood friends (Georgia, Marley and Emerson) who met at fat camp are reunited years later in tragedy.  Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.  The story continues on dealing with grief and intersecting back in time and present day.  These girls want to be skinny and have boyfriends.  But oh there is much more to life.  They just don’t know it.  Chapters are titled by the character’s name who is expressing her POV.  Emerson’s journal entries are sprinkled throughout.  Basically this book attempts to take a good hard look at societal views of beauty and relationships – familial, friends, and other types.

I guess I am shifting my verdict somewhat.  Kelly and the Book Boar offered “However, that’s not how it was and they were all fucked up due to their families and apparently fat people can’t just be fat without superbadawfuls so like I said get pissed if you want because that was sort of grating.”  And then I thought with a critical mind.  She’s freaking right.  Society judges – when you’re fat you must have been hurt badly for surely you’d be thin otherwise.  And one explanation that the book offers for Emerson’s morbid obesity is sadly true from some.  There is however no universal truth.

Still I think what drew me in for the gut punch was how much I related to the females who led this story.  In fact they could be several someones I know very well.  These imaginary characters became my friends.  Then I realized my empathy was anything but and in fact I think my feelings bordered on pity and no one wants that.  I cried at times.  Of course I laughed too.  

The book is really long but I made it all the way.  I recommend you read it too if chick lit is your thang.  Not thing … your thang … lol

Before I go, here are a few more gems:

“The look that said fat was worse than hateful or dishonest or cruel”

“I was awash with guilt, the curse of the Catholics”

“You could take the Catholic out of the girl but not the superstition”

“People asked me why I left the law. For hugs I said”

“There was no reason to dress up for reading.  Books didn’t care.  Books were just happy to be read”

Goodreads 4.14 of 5 stars … fickle Jill is still staying with her 5. Any book that brings the emotions out – laughter or tears is worthy of five stars.  The emotions get me every time.

As always, more to come.

It’s Not Our Fault

… really?  yes!  Really …

give em a frame of context Jilly.

This is a book club review.  But first a word from our sponsor.  Me …

I hate the blame game – abhor it actually.  A major pet peeve.  Accountability is key!  Of course I have taken accountability to an extreme.  I blame myself for everything.  I am RESPONSIBLE!  Well me and the makers of Aquanet.  Hole in the zone … from too much hair spray in the 80s …  That was us!!

But I digress.

I just finished reading “the Obesity Code, Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss” by Jason Fung.  Now what makes me think his advice is any better than another.  I mean weight loss is a billion dollar enterprise.  And as always, everyone has an opinion.  The so called experts often contradict each other … more often than not.  Again I sit with analysis paralysis. What I do know is time is required.  No magic or hocus pocus. And why do I like Jason?  Because he tells us it’s not our fault.

I think back about my diet from my younger days when I was stick thin.  Food was an after thought.  I never ate breakfast that I can recall.  Lunch was the bread part of my sandwich, a bag of chips, and piece of fruit.  And always ate a sensible dinner which back in the 70s consisted of some kind of meat, potatoes and canned vegetable. At every single meal we had bread and butter.  When I didn’t like the meat option which was often, I ate bread and butter.  Bread of the Rainbow or Buttercrust variety.  And the butter was really Parkay – oleo.  The crappy artificial stuff.

Why was I not fat???  Was it because I walked everywhere?  Played outside until the street lights came on?  Jason says no.  It’s not about calories in and out.  We need to eat the right calories (and enough of them) at the correct time.  Re-set our thermostats.  And I have a bridge to sell ya.  Or not.

Jason’s answer is intermittent fasting.  He maintains we’ve been told what to eat but not when.  His idea is simple.  Nothing processed and no snacks.  Three meals is enough people.  Grandma had it right.  Snacking makes us fat.  Mindless eating when we are not even hungry.

At the very end of the book Jason gives us two seven day meal plans around a 24 or 36 hour fast.  I will try the 24 hour variety since it most resembles my childhood eating pattern.  Every night I will eat today’s version of a home cooked sensible dinner.  Breakfast will be every other day and of the petite variety like the French.  Lunch will also be every other day.  Homemade goodness.  I think I can do this!

Might sound like another scam.  Too good to be true.  And what do I care about love handles anyway.  Enough body shaming.  This is about health.  Even if I do not drop a single lb. I hope my symptoms will subside.